There are plenty of unique-looking dude actors out there who have thrived in the horror genre, as male horror stars don’t have to be supermodels. But females in the genre? That’s another story. They have to be smokin’ hot Scream Queens with big hooters and a killer set of lungs. Which is why actress Angela Bettis is all the more awesome as she doesn’t fit the status quo of horror starlets—she’s cute yet mysteriously odd looking, she has the acting (and directing!) skills to pay the bills, and her contributions to the genre are always memorable and somehow, with every project, she injects her own level of class that most Scream Queens can only aspire to do. So with that, let’s take a deep dive into the career of Angela Bettis!
Bettis has starred in a number of excellent projects—and for good reason: she as the tendency to team up with director Lucky McKee, and that guy rarely makes a bad movie. Her most renowned role goes to MAY, where she plays a disturbed anti-hero that’s both scary and vulnerable, and it’s the role that really set her on the horror map. She’s gone on to other gems since then, with RED… but none have been as impactful as MAY. Except maybe McKee’s THE WOMAN, which may be one of the most unsettling movies ever, partly due to Bettis’ role as the mother who chooses to overlook the monster side of her husband… until it’s too late. Absolutely fantastic role, and such a brutal movie to sit through.
As with any great contributor to the genre, Bettis has her share of stinkers, though not for lack of trying on her part. There’s WICKED LAKE, which features boobs (not hers) and Lesbos but offers little else to write home about. SCAR is just an unsettling little movie that had the potential to be a lot of fun and ended up just being boring and depressing. And while I’m sure she thought she was taking the role of a lifetime, the decision to play Carrie White in the TV version of CARRIE may not have been the wisest choice as the project was doomed from the start. She channels her best Sissy Spacek, but a made for TV series on the classic Stephen King wasn’t the way to go… hence while we’re getting yet another remake of the book (but this time, for the big screen).
Bettis tends to take on the roles of vulnerable yet strong women, women who appear to be victims and take mounds of abuse but are actually more versatile and tough than most people give them credit for. She’s soft-spoken for the most part, but can belt a good yelling match / scream session with the best of them, and while she appears to be as fragile as a twig—she’s the one that will likely break you in half if given the opportunity. It’s the tiny factor that sets her apart visually, as there’s something about how skinny she is that is unsettling and a titch creepy. I won’t say she’s as creepy as PET SEMETARY’s Zelda, but she’s up there. And that’s why the genre loves and embraces her—a talented actress with a unique look that fits the horror genre.
She has a few hidden gems, the first being one where’s she’s not actually on screen at all but rather as a director—ROMAN. A little flick that actually stars long-time collaborator Lucky McKee in the lead role of a reverse obsessed-type situation with the girl next door. It’s a decent movie, and for a first-time directorial effort by Bettis, it’s a goddamn achievement (and it’s streaming on Netflix). On screen, her role in McKee’s MASTER OF HORROR entry SICK GIRL is pretty goddamn awesome. In it, she plays the type of role she usually plays: quiet, mousy, and not an ounce of innocence underneath that demure manner. It’s short (50 minutes-ish) and to the point, but packs quite the unsettling punch so be sure to check this one out.
A new movie is now in limited theaters right now as well as the usual VOD outlets. It’s called THE ABCs OF DEATH, where 26 directors got together and made 26 short movies for each of the letters of the alphabet in one thrilling horror-laced ride after another. Bettis doesn’t star in one of these entries but is actually sitting in the director’s chair for E is for Exterminate. She joins the likes of directors Ben Wheatley and Ti West (among many, many others) and from all accounts, I’ve heard some of the entries are really awesome, and some… maybe not so much. Which one does Bettis fall into? You’ll have to check it out in theaters or on VOD to find out!
When director Lucky McKee needs a leading lady, one that can handle the drama, the friction, the tension, and whatever messed up thing he has to throw at them, he knows to call Angela Bettis. While she’s not a cookie-cutter Scream Queen as we know it, she is one of the bigger leading ladies of the genre. Maybe it’s her unsettling features that makes her so compelling to watch in a horror flick (she is, after all, a little creepy looking when in the right role)—whatever the reason, she’s made a name for herself in horror and we can only hope she sticks around for a while longer, whether that’s on the big screen or behind the camera. This chick can do it all!